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Hum Reprod. 2005 Jul;20(7):1779-85. Epub 2005 Mar 10.

Cryopreservation of human embryonic stem cells without the use of a programmable freezer.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, College of Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul, 110-744, Korea.



An effective freezing-thawing technique is crucial for the clinical application of human embryonic stem (ES) cells. The aim of this study was to find an optimal cryopreservation protocol for human ES cells using slow freezing-rapid thawing without a programmable freezer.


The human ES cell line, SNUhES-3, was cultured on an STO feeder layer in gelatin-coated tissue culture dishes. All cryopreservation steps were performed using a simple commercial freezing container. The survival rate of cryopreserved-thawed human ES cells was estimated by counting colony numbers under a stereomicroscope. Initially, we compared the survival rates of cryopreserved human ES cells using three cryoprotectants: dimethylsulphoxide (DMSO), ethylene glycol (EG) and glycerol. In this experiment, 5% DMSO/95% fetal bovine serum (FBS) (vol/vol) showed the highest survival rate. We next tested the impact of various concentrations of FBS (95, 50 and 5%) with 5% DMSO, and then examined the effects of adding EG or glycerol to 5% DMSO + optimal FBS.


No significant difference in survival rate was observed between 95 and 50% FBS in the presence of 5% DMSO. A significant improvement in survival rate was obtained by adding 10% EG to 5% DMSO+50% FBS. After thawing, surviving cells were found to maintain the inherent characteristics of human ES cells.


5% DMSO+50% FBS+10% EG may be an optimal cryoprotectant for the slow freezing-rapid thawing of human ES cells.

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